As the effects of the president’s cruel and regressive executive order on immigration are becoming clear, I’m proud to live in a town that’s ready to stand up for what’s right. This week, our Board of Selectmen voted to cosponsor a warrant article with the Human Rights Commision that would make Arlington a Sanctuary Town.
The final language and whether the Board will recommend a yes vote still need to be worked out, but based on the discussion, I’m optimistic that I will have the chance to vote in favor of this article in Town Meeting this spring. The Arlington Police Department already follows these practices, but the warrant article would codify them and send a powerful message. Adopting Sanctuary Town status is not without risk, since the president is threatening to pull federal funds from sanctuary cities and towns. Whether he can do this remains to be seen. I’ve reached out to local officials to see if there’s anything voters or Town Meeting Members can do to help, and if I hear of anything I’ll let locals know.
But I’m excited to think of what could happen if other cities and towns became sanctuaries. California is blanketed with sanctuary cities and towns. A proponent of the warrant article said at the meeting that in Massachusetts, Amherst, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Lawrence, Northampton, Orleans, Somerville, Springfield, and Holyoke offer this kind of protection. Newton and Salem are currently considering similar proposals.
If your town is not on this list, would you consider reaching out to your town leaders to see if it’s in the works or what you can do to help make it happen? Their email addresses are easy to find on town websites. Even if elected officials are not supportive, citizens can sponsor warrant articles. Generally town websites or the clerk’s office can give you information about that. It’s always great to have buy-in from the electeds, but it’s not a requirement. Arlington citizens are the ones who started the movement here (I wish I had been one of them). As towns gear up for their spring meetings, the timing is right. I’m personally feeling overwhelmed by where to begin to oppose this administration’s bigotry and authoritarian bent. I’m grateful that my senators and representatives are already fighting the good fight. I don’t need to call them. Reaching out to your elected town leaders about this issue is a small local action. This movement could be very powerful if enough cities and towns join in.